The City has announced that it is currently collating all the comments that were received during the public participation process of amending and improving the draft version of the Coastal by-law. This is the by-law that will deal with foul or abusive language on Cape beaches, among other things.

“Cape Town’s coastline draws millions of tourists and local visitors every year. It is a national asset and contributes approximately R40-billion per annum to our local economy,” said City of Cape Town’s Mayco Member for Spatial Planning and Environment, Marian Nieuwoudt. “The proposed by-law will assist the City to better manage our coastline; take appropriate action during emergencies in the interest of public safety; and enable law enforcement of activities that may have a damaging impact on the coastal environment.”

The by-law will also address:

–  poaching, or illegal fishing
– harvesting or removal of vegetation
– removal of sand, pebbles, rocks, shells or kelp
– removal of or damage to indigenous coastal vegetation
– littering
– pollution and dumping
– encroachment of private property into coastal environments
– measures to remove encroachments and rehabilitate effected land
– possession or consumption of liquor or drugs
– hawking or doing business without authorisation
– launching of vessels
– issuing of fines for contraventions

Last month, the City published the draft Coastal By-law for public comment. Invitations were distributed to businesses along the coastline to participate, as were pamphlets to encourage residents in these areas to submit comment. The City has hosted nine information sessions across Cape Town where City officials answered attendees’ questions. Officials have also encouraged residents to submit their comments online, at City libraries, or by hand.

The closing date for comments was Monday, September 2, 2019. The City is still collating all of the submissions, but can confirm that to date the total number of submissions is at approximately 700.

“I was pleasantly surprised about the significant interest in the by-law and I want to thank everybody who took the time to participate. We went to great lengths to inform the public about the by-law and residents heeded the call. Approximately 150 people attended the information sessions, and I can honestly say that these engagements were extremely constructive,” Nieuwoudt said.

“I have participated in numerous radio interviews and fielded many questions from the media about the proposed clause about indecent language on beaches. This clause solicited conflicting comments with some residents asking for it to be removed, while others expressed support for the need to create an environment of respect, in particular on beaches where families and children spend a lot of time. We will consider all of these comments and see how we can improve on the draft version of the by-law.”

Officials from the City’s Coastal Management Branch will solicit senior legal advice to ensure that the final version of the proposed by-law complies with the Constitution and the City’s mandate. The public submissions will be considered and some clauses may be amended or even deleted.

“I’ve attended the public information sessions and attendees mostly supported the by-law as an important mechanism to preserve and protect our coastline, and to ensure that the beaches remain a safe and accessible environment for all. Comments also focused on the promotion of access to the beaches as public spaces; the City’s capacity to enforce the by-law, once approved; and public safety,” Nieuwoudt added.

The draft by-law will be applicable to the coastal zone, which is a public area that belongs to all South Africans. It covers the seashore, the coastal waters, and the environment on, in, under, and above the coastal zone.

“The proposed by-law will give the City the legislative powers to enforce the public’s right to access and enjoy our beaches and sea. Some residents are claiming the beaches or parcels of land in front of their properties as their own private areas by either extending their homes or gardens, or building walkways with ‘no-access’ signs on it. Our coastline belongs to all of us, and the by-law will be used to entrench this right,” said Niewoudt.

“If all goes as planned, the draft by-law will serve before the Portfolio Committee on Spatial Planning and Environment in November for councillors’ input, and then before Council for approval early in the new year,” said Nieuwoudt.

The proposed draft by-law, if approved by Council, will only become effective once published in the Provincial Gazette.

The by-law addresses several integral elements that affect the Cape’s treasured coastal environments. Another issue needing to be addressed is the public having access to beaches that some might consider ‘part of their property’.

Picture: Pixabay

Article written by

Lucinda Dordley

Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.